EFFICIENT APPLIANCE USE
Use low energy, super insulated refrigerators with efficient features like freezers located below refrigerator space.
Place refrigerators away from direct sunlight and other heat-producing appliances.
Design "cool room spaces," or root cellars utilizing natural cooling to store fresh foods safely without any power or coolant at all.
Be sure CFCs used for refrigerant are recycled during disposal or maintenance.
Avoid using energy hungry dryers. Old-fashioned clotheslines utilizing sun and wind still produce the freshest smelling clothes, without perfumes to simulate the experience.
The laundry room should be separated from living spaces and supplied with both an exhaust fan and an intake for makeup air.
Laundry products can be extraordinarily toxic. Heat and moisture generated from laundry can breed harmful molds, if not properly vented.
Shared laundry facilities might well be featured in neighborhoods of the future.
Look for energy/water consumption specifications before choosing. Many cheap domestic machines use too much water and too much electricity, making too much noise, while spewing toxic perfumes and chemical odors from detergents and drying agents into the indoor air.
The residues from perfumes, phosphates and surfactants contribute to the overload in sewage treatment facilities and contamination of groundwater. A better job can sometimes be done with a two-basin hand washing using safe soap.
Some commercial dish washing machines are capable of doing a better job in a shorter time with less water and energy.
Microwave or Convection Ovens
Not only do American standards for microwave leakage fall ten times below European standards, but they are 100 times below the Russians! These devices also produce notoriously high electromagnetic fields, even when plugged in, but not turned on.
The convenience of microwave cooking may be highly overrated - especially in light of the molecular damage done to most foods and liquids by this "cooking method."
Convection ovens, or best of all the "Dutch ovens" available in kachelofens, produce healthier and more palatable meals, while conserving energy. Solar ovens work well too!
Gas-fired combustion appliances burn cleaner and more efficiently than electrical appliances. Any combustion fuel, no matter how efficiently it burns, produces a number of combustion by-products, including carbon monoxide. Chemically sensitive individuals react immediately to the presence of natural gas or propane fuel - even in properly installed and vented appliances. A Canadian solution has helped resolve this debate: sealed combustion gas-fired appliances. Intake combustion air is taken into the burners directly from outdoors, exhaust fumes are taken directly to a flue, and no breathable room air is exchanged with the burner. Cast iron hoods or "Corningware" glass stove tops combine the advantages of quick on/off temperature control and clean emissions to provide the best of both.
Garbage disposers can be eliminated if homes are equipped with working garden compost systems. Why send all the leftovers to the sewage treatment plant when they could be helping the garden grow?
These are probably the most wasteful technology we have, now that glass, aluminum, paper, cardboard, plastic and almost everything else that doesn't go on the compost heap can be recycled. When "trash" is reduced and other waste is reused or recycled, we are saving landfill burden and contributing to the stream of resource supply.
Vacuums usually spit the most harmful microscopic particulate pollution in a building back through their bags or exhaust filters into the respirable air. Consider the advantages of a centrally installed vacuum cleaner: exhaust is directed outside, away from the ventilation supply, waste disposal is simple and convenient, remote location of the motor makes operation quiet, and long hoses allow ease of operation without lugging a portable machine through the building. HEPA (high efficiency particulate arrestor) filtered portable vacuums are the standard of the industry for asbestos abatement and are a healthy solution for regular maintenance.
Electric Kitchen Appliances
Blenders, food processors, can openers, etc., all consume inordinate amounts of electricity and produce ozone and high electromagnetic fields when used. Many of these devices represent a marketing coup for conspicuous consumption - perhaps each of us can ask "Do I really need this?" One approach pioneered by alternative energy buffs has been to wire kitchens for both AC and DC. DC electromagnetic fields are much less hazardous and are adaptable to photovoltaic-produced free energy from the sun. Most kitchen appliances are available in or convertible to DC versions.
© Architects, Designers, Planners for Social Responsibility. (Excerpted from the Ecological Architectural Resource Guide, David Kibbey, Editor).
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